Humanism


The emergence of humanism

Phillipp Melanchthon was born in 1497 and lived until 1560.
This time period saw numerous changes in the hitherto relatively stable political system and in the way of viewing the world, many of which were influenced by innovations.

The change in the system of beliefs is most obvious in the emergence of Kopernikus's world view (the helicoentric world view), which contradicted all existing beliefs.
Technical innovations such as the compass and the printing press revolutionized the navigational and communicational systems. Geographical discoveries like the discovery of America in 1492 (five years before Melanchthon's birth), literally changed the world.

The accumulation of these changes also caused great agitation, which must have seemed dangerous to many. The martyrdom of the so-called heretics illustrates one attempt to contain these changes.

The emergence of humanism (from the Latin word "humanitas," meaning humanity), a new spiritual movement, was simultaneously the cause of changes and also their result. Formal social gatherings, the study of ancient classical literature as well as of Greek and Latin were part of the humanist ideals.

Erasmus von Rotterdam The renewing movement of humanism, which opposed the fixed scholastic educational ideals and thus incited the resistance of the church, also formed numerous important people.

Erasmus von Rotterdam

Among these, Erasmus of Rotterdam is probably the most well known. When the great Erasmus, famous throughout Europe, applauded the beginnings of the Reformation in the work of the then still unknown Augustinian monk Luther, this gesture revealed the similarities between humanism and Reformation thought. On the other hand, the contradictions between humanism and Reformation became obvious in an argument concerning the possibility of man's participation in his own salvation that these very same monks debated with each other. As a result of this debate, many humanists turned away from Reformation.

Johannes Reuchlin (1455-1522) had an unparalleled impact on the development and maintenance of humanist ideas in Germany.
Reuchlin

Johannes Reuchlin

The debate between free educational ideals and fixed scholasticism was also expressed in his person.
The so-called "Reuchlin Feud," which was fought on a literary level, shows the satirical side of the battle between the new and the old in the form of the "obscurants' letters" (epistolae virorum abscurorum).
Reuchlin, who also educated Melanchthon, fought for the study of classical antiquity. According to him, this included not only the study of Greek and Latin but also of Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament.


Copyright© KDG Wittenberg.